As we approach the one-year anniversary of COVID restrictions it might be useful to reflect on these questions: HOW HAS THIS PAST YEAR AFFECTED AND CHANGED ME? OUT OF THAT EXPERIENCE, WHAT MAY BE AN INVITATION FOR ME? HOW HAVE I HAD TO ADAPT?
Having adapted to so many changes this year at Loyola, it occurred to us that we could include another offering- one that could be appealing to people looking for a boost in their spiritual life. We will offer the opportunity to make an At Home Personal Directed Retreat online.
Typically, retreats invite us to withdraw from ordinary life to reflect and deepen our spiritual life, and to refresh, rekindle and revitalize our relationship with God. We usually think of retreats as going away to a peaceful place, quiet, set in the woods, or by a lake – someplace nestled in nature. We expect a simple private room with an easy chair and a single bed, desk and chair, three meals a day (often eaten in silence), a gathering space for individual and communal prayer and sometimes inspirational teaching.
Of course, Retreat Houses have been mostly empty for this past year because of COVID. But the need for the spiritual gifts of retreat has never been greater. One of my favorite spiritual writers, Frederick Buechner, says it well:
The time is ripe for looking back over the day, the week, the year, and trying to figure out where we have come from and where we are going , for sifting through the things we have done and the things we have left undone, for a clue to who we are and who, for better or worse, we are becoming. But again, and again we avoid the long thoughts. . . we cling to the present out of wariness of the past. And why not after all? We get confused. We need such escape as we can find. But there is a deeper need yet – not all the time surely, but from time to time to enter that still room within us all where we are most alive ourselves to turnings, and to where our journeys have brought us. The name of the room is Remember – the room where with patience, with charity, with quietness of heart, we remember consciously to remember the lives we have lived.
There is in the spiritual tradition the idea of a Directed Retreat. Typically, one would set aside a period of time (most commonly 3 days, but can be longer or shorter if needed) and go to a retreat house, where they would be assigned a spiritual director to meet with them for an hour each day of the retreat. Silence and “unplugging” are strongly encouraged. People are drawn to this kind of retreat experience for many reasons; maybe they are needing to make an important decision, maybe they need to recuperate from stressful life events such as illness, death, divorce, job loss. They might want to prepare for significant life transitions, such as empty nest, retirement, moving. Or maybe they just need to find their inner compass.
In the spirit of adaptation that has become a way of life during the pandemic, Loyola is offering the opportunity for someone to make an AT HOME personal directed retreat… The spiritual directors at Loyola can be available first to help you plan your retreat and then scheduled to meet with you for an hour of direction on each day of the retreat to help you listen to your life. In planning the retreat, we can help you try to create the elements of a Retreat House – claiming your quiet places, how to incorporate silence; unplugging from email, cell phones, TV; finding a way to appreciate the nature available to you. In our training as Spiritual Directors, each of us on staff have experienced the personal directed retreat and know how blessed a time like this can be. We encourage you to think about this, pray about it, call or email any of our Spiritual Directors to ask more questions. We would be asking our usual hourly spiritual direction fee for the hour of planning and for each hour of meeting during the retreat.